The Best Deck Material for Calgary’s Harsh Climate

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The Calgary area is known for some extreme weather. There are the winter chinooks that change the temperature by double-digit degrees in an afternoon, and the massive hailstorms that seem to hit Airdrie and northeast communities like Saddle Ridge and Corner Brook every summer. There are storms that flood the Bow River, blizzards that close down Deerfoot Trail, and blazing hot days that are best spent out on your deck with a cold drink.

Considering these weather events – and how you’d like your newly-built deck to remain strong and solid for years to come – it’s only natural to ask: what is the best deck material for Calgary weather? Considering how powerful nature can be in Alberta, will your deck materials stand up to the harsh Calgary climate?

What is the most durable decking material?

While other materials may hold up well in certain circumstances, the best choice for durability are composite decking materials. These materials, such as those available from Trex, are waterproof, warp-resistant, and ward off rot and insect infestation. If the colour is kept light, they also resist heat very well.

Pressure-treated woods will withstand rot, mold, insect effects, and other natural processes better than plain wood, but over time they will crack and warp. Repeated hot/cold cycles (like in Calgary’s summer sun and rain) will cause tiny fractures and water will get into the surface. No matter how good the maintenance, they will need repair or even replacement within a few years.

PVC might be another popular choice for aesthetics, but it can get very hot in the sun, and its colours can fade. Plus, mildew and mold find holds in shady spots, near corners and out of sight. Without protection, one good hailstorm with rain and a few years of bright sunlight will make your brand-new deck look much less inviting.

Is Composite Decking Good for Cold Climates?

Yes! Composite decking is excellent for cold climates. Since it is made of wood and rigid plastic, it has both strength (to hold up against snow and cold) and a low tendency to warp (since neither of the materials expand or contract as much as other materials). The plastic also adds water resistance, preventing moisture from infiltrating the planks and causing damage.

The best part? Compared to materials like wood, PVC, or metal, composite decking is basically maintenance-free. Even if uncoated, it will not rust or rot, and it has a natural resistance to warping. This ability to stand up to weather extremes makes composite decking a perfect choice for cold weather climates. 

Deck Care in Cold Climates

We’ve written before about some of the best types of decks in Calgary, and even how you can take advantage of the best deck styles for your property. So once you’ve got a great backyard setup, you’ll want to take care of it the best you can. Whether you’re using wood, PVC, or our personal recommendation of composite boards, these tips will go a long way toward deck protection in cold Calgary weather.

Clean dirt, debris, and mildew.

Use a broom, pressure washer, and appropriate cleaners to clear out leaves, twigs, insect nests, mildew spots, and other debris that may be building up on and between your deck boards. Do this before it gets below freezing, or moisture may get trapped in the materials and cause cracking or splits.

Inspect your deck.

Look around for weak spots: around joists, attachments, nail/screw points, corners, and railings. Look especially for loose components or debris build-up.

Shovel snow, but no salt.

Always shovel snow with the grain, to avoid chipping or scuffing the finish on the boards. Moving snow elsewhere also ensures less melt running across the boards in the spring, leading to more resilience to the elements. And resist the temptation to add salt – it can degrade and discolor finishes, as well as washing off onto your lawn and killing grassy areas.

Whether you live in Calgary’s communities of Shawnessy or Silver Springs, Country Hills or Quarry Park (or maybe you live nearby in Okotoks, Cochrane, or Priddis) – choosing the right deck materials for durability is just as important as choosing for your taste. When you need a professional deck builder in Calgary, let Maritime West know, and we’ll make sure your deck lasts through the cold, so you can enjoy it in the heat for many years to come!

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